PURPOSE OF YOGA Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on the unification of body, mind and breath while practicing a variety of physical postures and movement sequences. Yoga methodology provides proven tools for deepening and enhancing self-awareness, health, achievement, and well-being. As a person learns how to move gracefully, breath smoothly, and deeply and sustain their concentration, they simultaneously develop strength, flexibility, balance, mental clarity and emotional stability. The yoga process of linking or unifying thought, breath, and movement develops focus and an awareness of the fundamental interconnectedness of intention, action and consequence. The cultivation of this kind of personal integration deepens one’s relationship to and respect for oneself, others, and life on all levels.
History The roots of yoga expand deep into the Hindu culture, going back thousands of years. However, Indian sage Pantajali is credited for establishing the foundation and inspiration for the classic belief and form of yoga as most of us know it today. Asanas means: poses Pranayama means: Pra: First Na: Energy Yama: Control (Breath Control)
Physical Benefits The Physical Benefits The focused activity of asanas is said to: Lubricate the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments Improve circulation and the activity of the nervous system Increase flexibility Release tension
Types of Yoga Hatha Hatha is a very general term that can encompass many of the physical types of yoga. If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses.
Vinyasa Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, tends to be a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called sun salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath. A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that's done at the end of class.
Ashtanga and Power Yoga Ashtanga, which means "eight limbs" in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. Ashtanga practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next. In yoga terminology, this movement is called flow. Ashtanga is also the inspiration for what is often called Power Yoga. If a class is described as Power Yoga, it will be based on the flowing style of Ashtanga, but not necessarily keep strictly to the set Ashtanga series of poses.
Power Yoga Janise and her student Ime Oduok, a professional Basketball Player,practice a balance pose for ankle, knee and hip stability. Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth Power Yoga is for sport-loving people, who have a need for a great physical work-out, those who want to develop themselves in more complex asanas and teenagers. This practice is not suitable for people with serious health problems.
Mountain Pose Mountain Pose is the standing equivalent to Child's Pose. It helps you return to a calm center before moving on to other poses, or asanas. If you're new to yoga, try to keep your feet hip distance apart, and let the arms hang relaxed at your sides. Inhale and exhale a few times at equal length before continuing with your routine. Eventually you may want to bring your palms together at heart center, shown here, in a posture known as Namaste
Standing Forward Bend Another common posture in most yoga styles is Standing Forward Bend. When the low back, thigh muscles, and hamstrings are fully open, almost every person can fold forward with straight legs and wrap their arms behind their calves. Beginners should coax these areas to open gradually by first practicing this pose with knees bent, but not over the toes, and resting the chest on the thighs. The longer you hold the pose, the more you can use your breath to help you straighten the legs, as this model demonstrates.
Low Lunge Low Lunge is another transition posture that helps beginners move between standing poses. It's also great for increasing leg strength.
Plank Pose Plank Pose is one of the best ways to increase strength in yoga. You'll build upper-body strength as well as tighten the core; both helpful to advancing your practice. Make sure to stack your shoulders over your wrists and keep your feet hip distance apart. If you like, hold this posture for up to one minute. Plank is often a transitionary pose between standing and seated postures.
Downward Facing Dog In this invigorating pose, shoulders are away from the ears, back is straight, and the heels should touch the floor. Your hamstrings may feel a bit tight, but regular practice will increase flexibility.
Cobra Pose Full Cobra Pose can only be achieved with a good backbend. For many beginners, the low back is the less-developed area, so take Cobra in stages. Widen your feet so your toes are on the edges of your mat. Place your hands under your shoulders or, if your backbend isn't deep enough, rest your forearms in front of you for Low Cobra or Sphinx variation. Inhale as you lift up, hinging out of the low back. Keep your gaze forward.
Chair Pose .Understanding a few basic yoga poses will help you develop an appreciation for the practice. You can begin your yoga session with the Chair Pose. From a standing position, sink down into your heels into Chair Pose. Make sure your knees don’t go over your toes. When you rise up on an inhale, sweep your arms overhead, and repeat. With every posture, move on the breathh.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend Make sure the hips and knees are in alignment, and fold forward from the hips, not the lower back. You can hang your head down if it’s comfortable.
Warrior Pose You’ll do this basic yoga pose the same way -- once facing the right, and again to the left. If you can’t hold your arms overhead for a period of time, stretch them out front to back.
Child’s Pose Many people are too intimidated by yoga to try it, but keep in mind that each yogi started with beginner yoga stances. Enter into your new practice with wonder and patience. Child's Pose II, shown here, and Child's Pose I, with arms along your sides, are great ways to start your routine by helping you calm down and focus on breath. Return to either pose throughout your practice whenever you need to center yourself before moving on. If your thighs are tight, widen your knees to the edges of your mat.
Staff Pose This basic yoga pose is a great transition between standing and sitting postures.
Seated Spinal Twist In this posture, moving with breath is very important. Turn as far as is comfortable, and if you can’t put your arm over your knee, use your hand instead. You’ll do this to both the left and right.
Triangle Pose For beginners, this yoga stance helps lengthen the side body. Move into the pose by positioning the arch of your back foot in line with the heel of your front foot. Next, bend your front leg and exhale as you slide your hand to your shin, ankle, top of the foot, or the floor. On your next inhale, straighten the front leg as you raise your arm and turn the external hip upward. Make sure to repeat on the other side for full balance.
Half Shoulderstand Inversions are important poses to end your sequence with because they help move all the energy you've created through the body and out the crown of the head. More advanced yogis often do Headstands and Handstands, but beginners should start with Half Shoulderstand. Some people find it easier to sit on their mat with knees to chest, and rock back and forth a little before lowering to the mat and lifting their legs up. Place your palms at your low back, and tilt your legs toward your head a bit, while keeping a small space between your chin and chest. Hold this pose for at least 10 breaths before slowly lowering your legs to the mat and tilting your head back.
YOGA TAKE THAT! Standing Head to Knee Pose